Justa Lad has made the most of New Zealand Cup and Show week following up his runner up finish on the opening day of the carnival with a win at Riccarton on Wednesday.
Connections celebrate Justa Lad's success (Photo: Riccarton Park Racecourse)
The five-year-old Echoes of Heaven Gelding navigated traffic difficulties to finish second in the Grand Sslam Trading Company Premier (1600m) last Saturday and the quick back up and step up to 2000m proved no problem in the Bidfood Processing Premier four days later.
With jockey Kozzi Asano once again on board, Justa Lad jumped well and settled just off the early leader, stablemate Bad Flamingo.
On hitting the straight, eventual runner up Powerlite launched her attack with Asano having to shift outwards before making his challenge.
Justa Lad responded and a concerted effort saw him draw clear to get the win by a neck.
Trainer Andrew Carston said the Robin Laidlaw bred and owned Justa Lad had required a patient approach but earmarked him as a progressive stayer that will continue to improve.
“He is a horse that has taken a bit of time but is finally maturing,” he said. “It was his first time at 2000m and we had gone in with a bit of confidence though he didn’t draw that well (gate 14).
“He needed a bit of luck and Kozzi executed it well, it was a good result.
“I think he will go on with it from here. He will have a bit of a spell, he has had two runs in five days so we’ll give him a bit of a freshen up.”
Justa Lad now has one win and two placings from seven starts. He is the second foal out of Flying Spur mare China Tea who is from a family that includes Australian filly of the year Samantha Miss as well as Group winning mares Pravda and Cronus.
Carston has 17 horses set to run on Saturday and is looking forward to the closing day of Riccarton’s biggest week of racing.
“I have a big team in on Saturday,” he said. “I won’t stand any out because it’s never easy at these big meetings with big fields and you need a bit of luck.
“It is great to have runners during Cup week and it’s good for the owners. The atmosphere has been great, there has been heaps of people on course and it is good to be a part of it.”